Last Friday Vicki and I were looking at the horrible picture on our downstairs TV, and at the check I just got back from Google, and said “It’s time to replace this piece of shit and buy a TV made in this century”.
Some friends had raved about the Sharp Aequos(?), and we had a look at it in the store and on the web. It was just barely within our price range. But we said “hey, we don’t watch a lot of DVDs, and we don’t have any plans to buy a new HD or BluRay DVD player anyway, so why do we need 1080p?”. We decided that the Sony Bravia looked just as good to us, and cost enough less that we could also afford a new TiVo HD. Hey, bonus! Of course, the salesman tried to talk us into the Monster Cable HDMI cable (which came in two versions, one costing $100 and one costing even more). There is only one thing I know about video cables, and that’s that Monster Cables are horribly overpriced, so we “settled” for the non-Monster one that “only” costs $50.
It was when we got everything home that I discovered that the new TiVo HD doesn’t have a way to control a cable box. I thought I’d just have to take the old cable box in and swap it with an HD one, and I’d be away to the races. But no, this one takes one or two CableCards. Fine, I thought, I wouldn’t miss the cable box. But then I looked at the Time Fucking Warner (aka TFW) web page for CableCard and discovered three things:
- You can’t just swap your box for a CableCard, you need to wait for an installer
- The CableCard doesn’t support some of the HD channels, notably anything they’ve added after January 2006.
- If we ditch the cable box, we’re going to “lose our package” and pay a-la-carte for the premium channels, which would raise our monthly fees by about $30
Ok, neither of the first two are show stoppers, and we could deal with the third by moving the cable box to the upstairs TV, but I was seriously thinking of ditching the TiVo HD and getting Time Fucking Warner’s own DVR. That was, until I tried to figure out how bad their DVR’s user interface was. I’d heard from some people who had dropped their TiVos in favour of their cable company’s DVRs and had ultimately gone back to TiVo because the UI was so incredibly bad.
And then I discovered the worst Flash web site on the web, and that’s saying something. This site attempts to show you how to use a DVR, but all it does it tell you “press this button, now press this button, now press this one”, without telling you *why* you’re pressing that button. There is a depiction of the user interface screen in one corner, but it’s so small you can’t see what you’re doing, so while it’s telling you to press the up arrow, you can’t tell why you’re pressing up – are you selecting a menu, or scrolling through a list, or what? Maybe if they used some of the real estate taken up by the dancing doofus they’d have room for a readable screen depiction?
Anyway, after enduring that horrible demo, I decided not to go for the TFW DVR.